Spring is time to go with the flow
We know that spring showers help spring flowers, but they also provide fuel for another Arkansas outdoor staple — waterfalls.
With two mountain ranges, the Ouachitas and the Ozarks, as well as many other hills and valleys, Arkansas is prime waterfall territory. And late winter/spring is the peak time for viewing them.
“The best time of year for ‘waterfall chasing’ is typically February through May after heavy rainfall, though there are some that flow year-round,” says Leah DiPietro, deputy chief of communications for the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “No matter what level of adventure you’re looking for, there’s a waterfall in Arkansas for you to discover.”
The department has developed a guide to Arkansas’ waterfalls, which is available at the state’s welcome centers and digitally at arkansas.com/waterfalls. It highlights 18 of the state’s most popular falls and provides information on the difficulty level to access them.
“Most waterfalls require an easy or moderate hike to view, while some are more of a difficult trek,” DiPietro says, adding that “other falls are accessible for all abilities or can even be seen from the road.”
In addition to the state guide, other waterfall information sources include local outfitters, as well as national parks located within the state. “Arkansas Waterfalls: Second Edition” by Tim Ernst, an in-depth guide for waterfall hunting in The Natural State, lists about 200 waterfalls including detailed directions, maps, GPS coordinates, color photos and the difficulty level for reaching them.
Here’s a sampling of some of the state’s most popular waterfalls.
Cedar Falls (Conway County):
The best-known waterfall in the state, Cedar Falls, is located within Petit Jean State Park atop Petit Jean Mountain, which rises about 1,120 feet above the Arkansas River Valley region. The 95-foot-tall waterfall can be accessed via the state park’s Cedar Falls Trail, which is a moderately difficult hike to base of the falls. There is also a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, which provides a spectacular view from above the falls.
Falls Creek Falls (Hot Spring County):
Located along the Falls Branch Trail at Lake Catherine State Park, this waterfall is typically at its peak in early spring. The 2-mile trail to the falls is moderately difficult. When water levels allow, you can float in a kayak from the lake into the creek for a short distance to the falls.
Eden Falls (Newton County):
This wet-weather waterfall awaits hikers at the end of the scenic Lost Valley Trail within the Lost Valley area of the Buffalo National River. The falls cascade down a hill near Cobb Cave, a giant bluff shelter. The trail is a relatively easy 2.3-mile roundtrip. The turnoff for the Lost Valley area is about 1.5 miles south of Ponca off Arkansas 43.
Collins Creek Cascade (Cleburne County):
This waterfall, located near Greers Ferry Dam, flows year-round, fed by Collins Creek, which contains cold water from the bottom of Greers Ferry Lake. The half-mile trail to the falls is easy to traverse and ideal for family outings. To reach the trailhead, travel along Arkansas 25 north from Heber Springs across Greer Ferry Dam and past John F. Kennedy Park. Turn right on Hatchery Road and go .4 miles.
Hemmed-In Hollow (Newton County):
This 200-foot-tall waterfall located near Compton is said to be the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians. On its website, the Buffalo Outdoor Center describes it as “one humdinger of a waterfall. Even when its long, billowing cascade is of modest volume, the geology of the fall alone is worth seeing.”
Glory Hole Falls (Newton County):
This unusual 31-foot waterfall located near Ponca flows through a hole created in an overhanging bluff. The hole was created by the flow of Dismal Creek over the centuries. To reach the falls requires a 2-mile hike of moderate difficulty.
Twin Falls at Devil’s Den State Park (Washington County):
The Twin Falls along the Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail are wet weather falls, so be sure to time your visit accordingly. The 1.5-mile trail is an easy hike with interpretive stops along the way. Pick up a brochure at the park office to learn more about the history and geography of the area.
Twin Falls of Richland Creek (Newton County):
The Richland Creek Wilderness Area in the Ozark Mountains is prime waterfall country. According to Ernst, the Twin Falls of Richland is “one of most classic and beautiful of Ozark waterfalls.” Getting to the Twin Falls is challenging with creek crossings and bushwhacking required.
Falling Water Falls (Pope County):
One of the easiest waterfalls to access, Falling Water Falls is located a few miles east of Ben Hur on Falling Water Road/FR# 1205. You can view the falls from your car or park and walk for a close-up view. In the summer, the area is a popular swimming hole.